NHS staff have been pushed down the priority line for Covid vaccinations to make way for carers, amid concerns around supply shortages in the coming weeks.

Hospitals will inoculate care home staff first as well as inpatients and outpatients aged over 80 rather than health service medics, include those working on virus wards.

It was initially believed that NHS staff would be first in line to receive the vaccine.

But NHS Providers confirmed reports health service staff would no longer be among the first in the queue for immunisations in the next few weeks.

Ministers had ordered a first consignment of five million doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the drugmaker's Belgium plant, but NHS bosses fear an initial batch of 800,000 jabs may be all the UK gets for sometime, according to reports.

An initial batch of 800,000 doses is on its way to the UK

While new guidance drawn up by the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation reiterated that care home residents and staff and over-80s must be the first groups inoculated.

In response, the British Medical Association, which represents most of the country's doctors, has warned pushing NHS staff down the queue could lead to more frontline doctors and nurses dying.

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said healthcare staff understand the need to vaccinate care home residents and older patients before them but "will likely be frustrated at the government's inconsistent messaging".

Dr Chaand Nagpaul

He told The Guardian: "In the first wave, we saw far too many health and social care workers become incredibly sick with Covid – with many tragically dying – and therefore those working on the frontline need to be given the opportunity to get protected early."

Dr Nagpual urged ministers to "make every effort" to ensure vaccine supplies are increased.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, tweeted it was always only an "unofficial, assumption [that] hospitals would concentrate initially on staff".

Chris Hopson

However, separately, he said he expects the "small number" of doctors and nurses with underlying health conditions or within certain roles who had already been booked for a vaccine would still receive it in the first batch.

Meanwhile, logistical and approval issues mean the UK's 400,000 care home residents will have to wait until the second week of January at the earliest to be immunised.

The NHS says it cannot yet bring doses of the Pfizer jabs into care homes as Britain’s regulator has not approved packs of 975 to be split before being transported.

Care home resident Margaret Yeoman, 90, sees her son John Yeoman, 62, and his wife Denise Yeoman, 63, for the first time in eight weeks

Approval by the Medicines and ­Healthcare products Regulatory Agency - which gave the green light for the Pfizer emergency roll out on Wednesday - is not expected for at least a fortnight, the Mirror understands.

The 50 hospitals identified as vaccination hubs are the only NHS facilities that have ultra deep freeze facilities to store the jabs at -70C. Once out of deep freeze, it can be stored at 2C to 8C for five days.

Mr Hopson said: "We have to work on the ­precautionary basis this initial batch of 800,000 could be the only batch we receive for some time. It is vital hospitals seek to vaccinate as many of [the] highest priority groups as possible in the initial phase."

Immunity does not develop until at least seven days after the second dose.

NHS England is planning on the basis it will not be able to get both doses to care home patients until January – meaning the earliest residents would be immune is January 7.

However, Scotland announced yesterday it would be rolling out the vaccine to care homes within a fortnight, casting doubt on these logistical obstacles and increasing pressure on No10 to prioritise England's care home residents.